Cartel Marketplace is a relatively new, mid-sized darknet market that focuses on drugs but carries a wide variety of other items, as well. Slightly over a year old and still under the radar to a lot of the darknet market community, Cartel describes themselves as a “user-friendly, intuitive and fun-to-navigate marketplace.” Indeed, the market makes things easy for users by letting them choose between multiple payment options (including Direct Pay and Multisig) and keeping everything easy to find. They do not force PGP encryption of messages and do not require 2-FA. While this perhaps makes Cartel less secure, it is definitely easier to use than many other markets.
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First impressions include the website loading slower than most other darknet markets, which means it can take seemingly forever to load sometimes. It may take longer for the page to load than the captcha allows, result in timeout errors. Because Cartel is known for hosting data dumps posted by ransomware gangs, it receives a moderate amount of DDOS attacks that sometimes force it offline. The market admin is generally interactive with users, posting regular market updates and responding to questions on the Dread forum. They seem to be dedicated to helping their users get the most of their experience and may represent one of the more ‘hands-on’ staffs of any darknet market.
Cartel Marketplace carries nearly 9,000 listings. Like most darknet markets, most listings are for drugs. The main categories at Cartel include Fraud, Drugs & Chemicals, Guides & Tutorials, Counterfeit Items, Digital Products, Other Physical Items, Services, Software & Malware, Security & Hosting. Listings are neatly arranged within dozens of subcategories. Among the subcategories, Cartel sports a particularly large selection of fake IDs and counterfeit money. They also service several vendors selling hacked accounts, personal information, scans, and data dumps.
Cartel accepts both Bitcoin (BTC) and Monero (XMR) as payment methods. In addition to supporting Direct Pay (per-order payments), they also use the traditional account wallet system, which means you can also fund your account before placing an order. For those who would rather not do Escrow or Direct Pay, Cartel supports Multisig for BTC payments. Some vendors have a special feature enabled where buyers who place and order agreeing to Finalize Early can get a discount.
Cartel Marketplace Pros
- Well-rounded selection of items with vendors covering the globe.
- Accepts XMR, flexible assortment of payment options.
- Dedicated admin with a presence on several community forums.
Cartel Marketplace Cons
- Slow to load, subject to frequent timeout errors.
- Data dump and personal information sections attract LE.
- Does not force PGP encryption, seems lax on some potential security issues.
In all, Cartel seems to be a dependable go-to for a lot of standard darknet market items. In addition to having a well-rounded selection of substances, we were impressed with the size and content of their digital items sections. Cartel demonstrates good business practices by paying attention to the wants and needs of their users, slowly building a positive reputation among the community. Though they may seem a little lax in terms of security precautions for some, users who practice good OpSec and know what they are doing should have no problems using this market.